Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What Hillary Clinton Learned From Virginia's 2013 Campaign

From Getty images

While the Republican presidential candidate field seems to have learned little from past defeats and continue to pander to a shrinking demographic of aging, homophobic, racist whites, some believe that Hillary Clinton is learning  from recent Democratic successes, most notably, the 2013 campaign in Virginia which saw the GOP slate of right wing candidates lose across the board.  With Virginia deemed a "swing state" one would think that the GOP would similarly be taking heed, but that might mean upsetting the ugly elements of the GOP base.  A piece in Time looks at what Hillary seems to have learned from Virginia.  Here are excerpts:
When Terry McAuliffe stormed the stage at a Virginia Democrats’ rally at George Mason University on Friday, Hillary Clinton followed on with an arm around her decades-long friend and political partner.

“I’ll tell you an honest story. When we’re on vacation, come about 6 o’clock at night, I’m ready for a cold beer,” McAuliffe told the crowd of 1,800 supporters, heaping unscripted love on Clinton as she stood smiling by his side. “I don’t go looking for Bill Clinton. I go looking for Hillary Clinton. Because she’s a lot more fun than Bill Clinton is, and I love him too!”

Clinton and McAuliffe shared more than just a stage and some kind words on Friday: they are now splitting the spoils of his successful 2013 race for governor of Virginia. Now in its third month, Clinton’s campaign for president has adopted key strategic lessons from McAuliffe’s gubernatorial race, including the finer details of a data-driven field organization focused on turning out the Democratic base and unmarried women, leaning into progressive Democratic positions and hiring many of the same staff members that helped McAuliffe win the governor’s mansion. And Democrats say that McAuliffe’s 2013 victory sets the stage for the state to go blue in the 2016 general election, when Hillary Clinton is the likely candidate.

Former McAuliffe aides are quick to say that their energy in 2013 was focused on getting their man to the governor’s house. But since then, the victorious McAuliffe campaign has become a ex post facto lab experiment for Clinton’s current bid for the White House.

A purple state that is trending blue, Virginia bears similarities to the general American electorate: its nonwhite population is growing and its voters are increasingly adopting liberal stances social issues. The swing state offered an ideal test run for the Clinton operation, combining vast rural tracts with midsized cities and expansive suburbs.

Central to McAuliffe’s campaign was his embrace of staunch Democratic positions on gay rights, abortion, gun control and healthcare a hard play for the Democratic base in Virginia that capitalized on the left-shifting electorate in his 2013 race for governor. Clinton has likewise embraced gay marriage, making it a central platform of her campaign messaging this year, just as public support has reached an all-time high. And she has fervently called for action on gun control at a time when a majority of Americans are in favor of universal background checks. Both have also embraced the Affordable Care Act . . . .

Those progressive positions succeeded in energizing the Democratic base without alienating Virginia moderates, also a central organizing tack of Clinton’s campaign.

Both the 2013 and the current presidential campaigns will rely on an army of volunteers, a flurry of commit-to-vote cards, targeted door-to-door canvassing and plenty of money to fund the efforts.

“The hallmarks of what Robby did in Virginia, and what he’s building now, is that the organizing occurred on the ground very early in the campaign,” Garin said. Beyond Mook, a bevy of key McAuliffe alumni have migrated to the Clinton camp.

And some of the key players organizing Hillary’s large ground operations in Iowa are former McAuliffe staffers as well, . . . 

“The campaign in Virginia relied on us not taking the bait on fights on anything in his public record. And you may see that with Clinton campaign.”

McAuliffe’s victory was due in no small part to unmarried women voters, whom he won by a huge margin of 67% to just 25% for Cuccinelli. McAuliffe blasted ads during the campaign framing Cuccinelli as a right-wing zealot on contraception and abortion issues. That demographic is crucial for Clinton, who tops unmarried woman over a generic Republican candidate with 66% of the vote to 29%, according to a recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll.


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